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Voices raised over killings as #StopHazaraGenocide trends on Twitter

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

Following a surge in targeted attacks against civilians in the predominately Shiite Hazara community in the western suburbs of Kabul city, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media calling on the Afghan government to recognize the attacks as acts of genocide.

The hashtag #StopHazaraGenocide has been trending over the past few days and by Saturday night had topped 100,000 tweets alone.

This comes amid ongoing attacks against the Hazara community – attacks that have over the past few years left hundreds of civilians dead and hundreds more wounded.

One Afghan woman said on Twitter “The systematic killing of Hazaras in Afghanistan is a clear example of genocide.”

Another Twitter user said: “Every day Hazara are digging a new mass grave to bury their loved ones. The hills of Kabul turned into a wasteland of despair where newborns, schoolgirls and mothers have been laid forever.

“Those who work for human rights and peace must today stand up and help us to #StopHazaraGenocide,” he said.

Another Twitter user stated: “The normalization of violence against Hazaras, the denial of the systematic persecution of a community simply because they belong to a particular ethnicity is the untold & rather unpopular truth of what is happening with Hazaras in Afghanistan.”

Dozens posted tallies around the death toll going back to 2018 – while many said that these attacks had been carried out by the Taliban, Daesh and other terrorist groups in the presence of US and NATO forces.

Referring to the UN convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a number of people stated that the attacks on Hazaras must be recognized as an act of genocide.

According to the UN Genocide Convention Article 11, any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group can be counted as genocide.

A number of Afghans stated that though all people in Afghanistan have been victims of terrorism, “the Hazaras have been constantly targeted for their ethnicity.”

Musa Zafar, an Afghan author, stated: “If you ask which ethnic group has suffered the most casualties in Afghanistan in the last twenty years, you can expect Pashtuns as an answer. Pashtuns have been killed on both sides of the conflict. Their children have been deprived of basic rights. But the targeted killings of Hazaras are an example of genocide.”

“The world should know that the Taliban and their like-minded terrorists are committing genocide along with countless other crimes [in Afghanistan],” he said.

A member of the Afghan Republic peace team, Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, said Saturday the voice of victims must be heard.

“It is a reality that the Hazara people are subject to genocide because they are being killed for their ethnic and religious identity,” Ahmadi said.

Shuja Zaky, TOLONews Anchor, stated that “targeting civilians anywhere and on all sides is condemned and deeply disturbing. But targeted attacks on Hazaras have gravely increased this concern.”

MP Arif Rahmani stated: “The world should not close its eyes to this systematic genocide.”

Parwiz Shamal, an Afghan journalist, said: “In Afghanistan, all ethnic groups have been harmed – Hazaras, Tajik Pashtuns, Uzbeks … but the fact cannot be ignored that seniors, young people, and children – even newborn babies – of no ethnic group like the Hazaras have been targeted just because of their ethnicity and have been slaughtered.”

This growing hashtag campaign, #StopHazaraGenocide comes after four private passenger vehicles were targeted in explosions in the densely Hazara-populated area in the west of Kabul city this week.

Dozens of people including Ariana News Anchor Mina Khairi, who was a Hazara herself, were killed in the bombings.

Tomas Niklasson, Acting Special Envoy of the European Union for Afghanistan, on Thursday spoke out about this and said that “targeting Hazaras” must be stopped.

Niklasson meanwhile also met with survivors of the deadly bombing at the Sayed-ul-Shuhada school in early May. Over 90 people, mostly schoolgirls, were killed when explosions were detonated at the school in Dasht-e-Barchi in Kabul – which is also a densely populated Hazara community.

Niklasson stated that crimes were committed and that these must be investigated.

“Targeting Hazaras must stop and crimes [must] be investigated,” he said.

He also noted that some people want to stop the grieving of Sayed-ul-Shuhada students, but that “their memory can be honored by pursuing dreams.”

“Those taken away too early can’t be brought back. But their memory can be honored by pursuing dreams that some want to stop,” he stated.

So far, no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Recently the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called on the Afghan government to grant special protection to Hazaras and the community in Dasht-e-Barchi.

The AIHRC said in a statement that it was the government’s duty to protect the Hazara community against crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

“The Afghan government has an obligation under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law to protect the population at risk of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide and international law obliges the government to take measures to end and prevent genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity and persecution on the basis of ethnicity and gender,” the statement read.

“In October 2020, just over six months ago, more than 40 students died in an attack on Kawsar Danish tutoring center. In May 2020, almost a year ago 11 mothers were murdered with their unborn babies, two boys were, and an Afghan midwife was killed, with five mothers injured; this is femicide and infanticide,” the statement highlighted.

The AIHRC stressed that the Afghan government should fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “which includes acknowledging massacres targeting Hazaras.”

“The Afghan government should immediately communicate a human rights-based protection plan for Dasht-e-Barchi and West Kabul. This should include plans for collective reparations,” the organization said.

One of the world’s most persecuted peoples

In a recent opinion article, in The Diplomat, by two political commentators, who are both former Afghan refugees, Sitarah Mohammadi and Sajjad Askary said the Hazara community “wears the sad reputation of being one of the world’s most persecuted peoples.”

They pointed out that while Hazaras now make up roughly a quarter of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million, they were once the largest Afghan ethnic group, constituting nearly 67 percent of the total population.

“The decline is due to the sad history of the Hazaras. Sanctioned state persecution against the Hazara began in the late 19th century. Since that time about 60 percent of the Hazara population has been eliminated in different ways: killed, sold into slavery, or forced into exile,” they wrote.

The Taliban’s massacre of thousands of Hazaras in Mazar-e Sharif in 1998 remains one of the most notorious atrocities in Afghanistan’s 40-year conflict, Mohammadi and Askary wrote.

They stated that members of Afghanistan’s Hazara community remain continually vulnerable to violence and that Hazara culture promotes democratic values of social liberalism and progressive thinking, and the community has embraced expanded educational opportunities.

“These cultural distinctions are at odds with the predominantly conservative religious views of wider Afghan society, and particularly with the Taliban. The Hazaras’ success, strides and liberation pose a threat to ethnocentric circles,” they wrote.

According to Mohammadi and Askary, the genocidal persecution of the Hazara people is maintained in contemporary attitudes throughout Afghanistan.

“Attacks against newborn Hazara babies, pregnant mothers, school children, girls, and youth are a matter of record. Hazaras have faced violence at educational centers and schools, fitness centers, wedding halls, and maternity wards.”

They also noted that “understandably, the persecution of the Hazaras has resulted in thousands seeking refuge across international borders in Europe, the U.K., and Australia.”

Mohammadi and Askary stated that emerging power dynamics in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan leave the Hazaras uniquely vulnerable to ongoing violence and that as the foreign military presence decreases, the need for increased international engagement with Hazara civil society organizations grows more crucial.

They stated that a vulnerable community is relying on its international friends to maintain humanitarian protection and institutional engagement as it confronts the dangers of a destabilized and chaotic time.

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Mysterious fires destroy dozens of homes in Jowzjan

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

More than 50 homes have been destroyed by mysterious fires in a village in Afghanistan’s northern Jowzjan province, officials said this week.

The fires have happened in Bala Mardian village of Faizabad district.

Sirajuddin Ahmadi, police chief of Jowzjan, said that the fires are increasing day by day.

“Yesterday 12 homes caught fire. Today people held Khatm Qur’an ceremony (reading Qur’an) and prayed. Within an hour today, three or four homes caught fire. I hope officials and leaders of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will pay special attention to the victims,” Ahmadi said.

There are no reports of deaths caused by the fires.

Noorullah Musafir, the provincial director of labor and social affairs, however, said that some people including women and children were hospitalized.

Meanwhile, local residents said that mysterious creatures could be seen during the fires.

“People are suffering from the problem. They initially thought that it was human, but later it was found that only children and women can see it. A creature is seen in the home, but when we enter the home, no one is there,” a Jowzjan resident said.

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DAB says technical agreements in place to print new bank notes

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

The country’s central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) said Thursday they have reached agreements with a number of foreign countries and money printing facilities to print new bank notes for the country.

“We have collected and burned the old money, we have reached an agreement with the money printing offices and countries and we expect to proceed according to the plan and present you with the results, we are proceeding based on national interests; discussions have been held with countries and banks and they will help Afghanistan,” said Lutful Haq Noor Pasarlay, DAB’s policy deputy head.

Abdulqahar known as Haji Muhammad Edris, the acting head of De Afghanistan Bank, also spoke at the event and mapped out achievements made by the central bank in the past 12 months.

“Maintaining the stability of the value of the Afghani currency, maintaining the sustainability of commercial banks, providing banking services, facilitating cross-border transfers and developing new systems were some of the issues in the attention of Da Afghanistan Bank during the last year,” said Abdulqahar.

According to officials, in order to improve the banking sector and prevent criminal activities, the law to prevent terrorism financing, the regulation of preventive measures against money laundering, the management plan for the liquidity problem of the banking sector, the plan to revive the financial and banking sector, and the crisis management policy, have been drawn up and will soon be adopted.

The officials also said that in order to release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves, several internal and external meetings have been organized with the relevant parties and discussions have been held on technical matters.

The last meeting of technical representatives of Afghanistan and the United States, for releasing Afghanistan’s frozen assets, was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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Bayat Power ‘looking forward’ to increasing domestic electricity output

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s first and currently only, natural gas to electricity generation, energy company is looking forward to expand its domestic power output.

In a speech, delivered by a company representative, Lotfullah Stanikzai, Bayat Power informed delegates attending the key energy conference in Kabul that the “team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

Stanikzai said the company was committed to working with government to achieve energy security and develop a pathway to energy self-sufficiency in Afghanistan.

The one-day conference, which was attended by senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders, representatives of foreign countries and members of the private sector, was convened to attract investment in the energy and water sectors.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting Deputy Prime Minister, said in his opening speech the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to developing the country but urged the people to be patient adding “because we have to build this country ourselves”.

Baradar also pointed out that Afghanistan is potentially a wealthy country that has great investment opportunities.

Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting Minister of Energy and Water, also addressed delegates and said the IEA is committed to managing the country’s water efficiently and to producing enough energy for the people.

Mansour said the conference was being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA had paved the way for local and international business owners to invest in the sectors.

Shahabuddin Delavar, acting head of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum also addressed delegates and said it is “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He singled out Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it hoped to increase this substantially.

“We welcome the company’s decision,” he said.

Stanikzai told delegates that Bayat Power was the direct result of a solid private and public partnership between the company and various Afghanistan government entities, including the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan Gas Enterprise (AGE), and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat.

However, he stated that Bayat Power calls on the IEA to support the continuation of operations with current investors and attraction of further investment.

He urged the authorities to ensure timely payment of outstanding invoices by DABS was made to various private entities including Bayat Power; to facilitate a favorable investment environment; promote investment through favorable taxation policies and lower operational costs; and promote transparency with government entities to expedite new and the renewal of existing agreements.

He also urged the IEA to ensure that AGE continues to receive full government support so that they can remain operational and provide clean gas.

Stanikzai said it was important for DABS and the ministry of energy and water “to continue the excellent work in keeping the grid stable to take the domestic electricity produced by private sector companies.”

In conclusion, he said: “Bayat Power team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

About Bayat Power

Bayat Power supplies electricity to schools, homes, mosques, hospitals, factories, business enterprises and other essential services. Currently the company supplies electricity to over 200,000 end users.

Bayat Group established the Bayat Power Electricity Services Distributor Company in 2013. Using the nation’s abundant natural gas reserves, the goal was to provide the people with a reliable supply of affordable and sustainable electricity.
Site work on Bayat Power-1’s 40MW gas-fired turbine started in 2019 and achieved commercial operation in November of that year. This landmark milestone made Bayat Power the first company in Afghanistan to operate a new gas-fired generation facility in more than 40 years.

Bayat Power-1 uses the most advanced, powerful, and efficient technology to extract the gas without adverse environmental impact.

Using Siemens Mobile Gas Unit “SGT-A45”, with up to 44 MW of electrical output, offers significantly more power and higher efficiency than any other mobile gas turbine worldwide.

The SGT-A45 turbine generates more than 300 million kWh per year of electricity, increasing revenue for the Afghanistan Gas Company through the purchase of gas for the project, as well as significant tax revenue for the Afghan government in the form of BRT, salaries and customs taxes, Bayat Power has been – and continues to be – a considerable PPP (private, public partnership) achievement.

This project has created more than 1,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Afghans, which has contributed to improving the nation’s economic condition and fostered new technical skill sets amongst the country’s talented citizens.

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